Summer in California

After telling Miss Boyd about the beauties of a California spring, John Bidwell went on to describe the changes of summer.

. . . hold now — let time speed but one month. The fragrant and beautiful flowers are dead, the waving grass and oats are dried, a hot suffocating breath attends you to the shaded stream where you propose to cool and refresh yourself, but here too has the scene changed in your absence — perchance you see the spot — while the grapes are still hanging from the boughs and are full of richness, but the stream where you thought to quaff a good measure of clear cold water is dried up, a few stagnant pools is all that remains. The foliage even from the trees has been crisped by the burning sun, and thus it will continue for six long months, not a cloud to dim the intensity of the midday sun — not a shower to reanimate thirsty drying nature.

That certainly describes a California Central Valley summer — six long months of hot weather and no rain. And he didn’t like it. He suffered from the heat and dreamed of returning to the States. He made his plans, but never carried them out.

Who was Miss Boyd? Evidently she was someone he wanted to impress, because his language in letters and diaries is rarely this poetical and flowery. Maybe he hoped to win her heart and hand if he returned to the States. She was someone whose family he had known in Missouri, but other than that I don’t know who she was. She probably married someone else, wrote him a “Dear John,” and that was the end of his efforts.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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